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Accessing Alfresco via IMAP

Alfresco is already well-known as a highly versatile system, which can grant repository access through a huge variety of channels. Among those, one of the less-discussed options is Alfresco’s IMAP integration, which allows mounting of and direct interaction with the repository, in any modern email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail, etc).

For any team that uses Alfresco on even a once-daily basis, this simple integration can yield immediate efficiency gains. This form of access allows a user to quickly drill into the repository to retrieve needed information or attachments, on any of the dozens of email exchanges that may happen in a day — all without leaving the home base of their favorite mail app.

Today we’ll look at how to setup basic IMAP integration, and consider briefly how this setup could be utilized.

1) Enable IMAP Protocol

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The configuration changes required for this are very easy. Locate your alfresco-global.properties file, and add in or change these properties:
imap.server.enabled=true
imap.server.port=143
imap.server.host=xxx.xxx.xxx.xx

The default port for the server is 143, which does not need to be specified separately in the properties file. The last parameter, the host address, can be either the numeric external IP address for your Alfresco instance, or the corresponding DNS hostname for the same.

That’s it! From here, just restart Alfresco. Then we’ll move on to our mail client.

2) Connect to Alfresco via email client

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For this demonstration we’ll be using Outlook 2010, but the general strokes of this walk-through should be adaptable to any modern email client that supports IMAP connections.

We’ll proceed in Outlook:

  • File >> Add Account
  • Select Manually configure server settings
  • Select Internet E-mail
  • On the following screen you’ll have several fields to fill out:
    Name and Email should correspond to an existing Alfresco user
    Account Type: IMAP, of course
    Incoming and Outgoing mail servers should match the DNS hostname used above for imap.server.host
    User Name and Password should be the Alfresco login credentials for the user noted above
  • You’ll want to uncheck Test Account Settings by clicking the Next button since that test entails types of sending / receiving that are beyond the scope of this basic setup.
  • Hit Next and then Finish, and you’ll be in business!

If all went properly, then over the next few moments you should see the new IMAP account begin to populate in the Accounts pane of your mail client. Here’s what mine
looks like after setup:

complete

3) Discussion

We’ve already mentioned how this integration can benefit even light users of an Alfresco instance.  And for the teams that need to access their repository many times in a single day, using IMAP could be a game changer.

Instead of diving into Share or another separate channel of access to reduplicate the receipt of an important attached document, users can simply drill, drag, and drop, directly from the email pane into the right Site or section of the repository. And when information needs to be retrieved or documents pulled out of storage, this too can be gained as simply as if the stored assets were ordinary email messages. The IMAP integration, as shown at right, grants full access into the repository, commensurate with the user’s own credentials.

In short, this integration makes accessing the Alfresco repository as simple and straightforward as if it were any other inbox.

We’d love to see what a team could do with this simple-but-powerful access point into the Alfresco repository. We think the possibilities are promising, and hope you’ve gained some insight in the course of this quick tutorial.

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